- Here are my musical recommendations for the week:
- Progressive.org: An interview with Ani DiFranco
Here are some interesting excerpts from the interview…
Q: You have a line in that song about “blood pouring off the pulpit.” You’re talking about the hypocrisy of the religious right, aren’t you?
DiFranco: It’s such a basic, huge, looming hypocrisy. People who are so concerned about the unborn, quote unquote, and the life of a zygote, and yet they’re willing to kill human beings, and completely, often, disregard the lives of actual children. There are many children existing on the planet already who could use that kind of love and dedication–as opposed to a bit of blood and tissue, which I think is a misfocusing of that kind of concern. And again, a lot of the people, of course, who are so staunchly against abortion rights are just fine with the military or the death penalty. The hypocrisy can be very high with some of those folks.
I totally dig what she is saying here. I differ with her some since I am a pro-life Christian . . . but I’m pro-life and pro-peace all of the time. I don’t understand the thought processes of Christians who are opposed to abortion but yet support violence in other areas such as the death penalty and war.
Q: On Up, Up, Up, Up, Up, Up (1998), you have another religious reference. You say, “God’s work isn’t done by God. It’s done by people.” What are you driving at there?
DiFranco: Well, I’m not a religious person myself. I’m an atheist. I think religion serves a lot of different purposes in people’s lives, and I can recognize the value of that, you know, the value of ceremony, the value of community, or even just having a forum to get together and talk about ideas, about morals–that’s a cool concept. But then, of course, institutional religions are so problematic.
And that line from the song, anyway, is how unfortunate it is to assign responsibility to the higher up for justice amongst people. My spirituality tends to be more in the vein of, if there is a God it exists within us, and the responsibility for justice is on our shoulders. What if we just looked to each other in this way? What if the steeples didn’t all point up? What if they all pointed at us, and we had to care for each other in the way that we expect God to care for us? I’m much more interested in that.
Her remarks here remind me a lot of what I read in the book “Living a Jewish Life”. That book (and maybe Ani to the extent that an atheist can) emphasize a practical spirituality that is rooted in this world and is committed to social justice.
Q: What about your feelings about patriotism? On Not a Pretty Girl (1995), you say, “I am a patriot.” And in ” ‘Tis of Thee,” the first song on Up, Up, Up, Up, Up, Up, you sing about patriotism with a twist.
DiFranco: It’s very much a love song for this country, my country. Mark Twain had a wonderful quote, “Loyalty to the country always; loyalty to the government when it deserves it.” That’s an essential distinction that I find very compelling. Because what is America? You can look at it and say it’s the government. You can look at it from all different angles. One way of looking at it is this incredible land and all its splendor. And the people, and all of the cultures, and all of the creativity and the beauty that comes out of that. I have endless love and pride for all of that. And then there’s the evil monolith of America that I fucking have to travel around the world and make excuses for.
This song ” ‘Tis of Thee,” I often wonder what people hear when I’m singing the chorus because different people, different characters appear. [The chorus goes, in part: “We’ll never live long enough to undo everything they’ve done to you.”
That part says it all. I’ll have to use that Mark Twain quote myself, the next time someone accuses me of being unpatriotic.